Nickie is a happy dog now however she has not always been so fortunate.
Like a number of our unfortunate canine companions Nickie was found wandering the streets of Surfers Paradise and was rescued by a good Samaritan. However our good Samaritan was not allowed to keep the dog where he lived so he gave Nickie to his sister.
When Nickie was found she had a slight limp which varied in its degree of significance from day to day. Now that she was finally in a good home and much loved, Nickie was gaining weight and was more active but unfortunately the leg began to become more severely lame. She was presented with an acute lameness with non-weight bearing of the right hind leg which was painful about the hip area.
X-rays taken at this time revealed a fracture of the head of the femur.
The head of the femur is the ball part of the hip joint. In young animals there is a growth plate within the head. A growth plate is a specialised cartilage area of bone in young animals that allow the bone to lengthen during development but has become bone in the adult. The growth plate is a weak area and with the right force applied to the bone the growth plate allows slippage to occur resulting in a fracture.
In Nickie’s case this fracture had tried to heal and had allowed Nickie to have some use of the leg. The healing fracture however was not complete and consisted only of fibrous tissue holding the loosened head to the shaft of the femur. With increased weight and exercise the healing fracture had become unstable resulting in the acute onset of pain.
In dogs and cats that weigh less than 25 kilograms the treatment option is to remove the ball and allow a false joint to form. This procedure is called an excision arthroplasty. For Nickie we preformed this operation which involved loosening the fracture repair more and removing the damaged piece of bone then smoothing the edges. Once this was performed the incision was closed.
Ten days later Nickie is using the leg again and improving daily. It is expected that she will have normal use of the limb within the next few weeks and in a couple of months (when the hair grows back) no one will ever know that she does not have a hip joint.